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2 Years of TMC and I Finally Got to Test Drive the First Model S I Ever Saw…

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by Ames, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. Ames

    Ames Member

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    #1 Ames, Dec 6, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
    So here I am in Switzerland on holiday, a little before skiing season. The pistes only open at the weekend, so after 2 exhilarating days of skiing in Grindelwald near “The Top of Europe” I find myself in Zurich shopping with my wife. I hate shopping; why my wife needs to go through every garment in every rack in every shop? It’s beyond cruelty! It was 2 hours in, we had just left our 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] shop, the voice in my head was emitting a continuous high-pitched wail of despair and I was searching for a thought to comfort me. Tesla was the first thing that popped into my head.

    Then it occurred to me there may actually be a store somewhere in the country…I frantically started Googling, and lo and behold! There was a store on an adjacent street literally five minutes’ walk from where we were! “This is what a mood swing feels like” I told myself. After effusively complimenting whatever my dearly beloved was trying on, I convinced her to come and see the Tesla with me.

    It was a European spec P85+ MC Red, 19” cyclones + winter tires, black performance leather, piano black accents, and all options except the jump seats, and running v5.8. First impressions: MC Red is gorgeous, needs to be seen in person. The car appeared to me much smaller than I expected, it’s more like BMW 5 series, the back feels cozy with a low roof like it does in a Mercedes CLS (except that the rear bench can sit 3 people). Sitting in the front the space between the seats seems at first weird, I do recommend the Yacht floor as it makes the car feel more finished. I could see one or two inconsistencies in the interior stitching but the exterior was perfect. The screens are gorgeous and crystal clear; they work really well. The Google satellite view is stunning in real life – all those YouTube videos do not do it justice. Overall I was relieved that the car was smaller than I had imagined it and I felt the dimensions were perfectly judged. I didn’t like the look of the 19” cyclones and esp. the air suspension was set to high to get the car in and out of the showroom safely (heaven forbid, the US press will have you believe that if you scrape the bottom of the car it will burst into flames and burn down the entire city).

    While I was fawning over the skateboard chassis (“This is the most stunning piece of automotive engineering in production today”) a certain Mr. Robin Hoefler started chatting with me. He was about to leave in half-an-hour and I asked if I could ride along just to experience the car. He did one better and offered me a test drive. After looking at my Dubai driving license with more than a little consternation (his Arabic is a little rusty?), he offered me an iPad where I signed a waiver and off we went :rolleyes:

    Driving in Town: Mr. Hoefler didn’t need to tell me much about the car as it was clear I knew as much as he did. He told me how nice it was to have a true fan as they didn’t get many in Switzerland and invited me to take the car out of the showroom by myself. Even though I knew exactly what to do I was very briefly intimidated by the complete lack of buttons and I couldn’t quite believe it when the car turned itself on as I touched the brake. After getting comfortable, I put the car in D and maneuvered out of the showroom, and off we went into downtown Zurich traffic heading for the motorway. My wife filmed the event and I later recognized what has been widely reported as a “Tesla Grin”. As soon as the P85+ dismounted the pavement I was impressed with the beautifully damped feel, the complete silence, and how normal the creep mode felt. I promptly had the creep turned off, steering set to standard, and confirmed full regen mode was on. Driving in the city was a dream, so easy, so soothing, did I mention the silence? There’s a lot to be said for that – only the noise of other cars and people talking and trams…Robin opened the huge sunroof and I remarked to myself how nice this car was to drive and be in – so much more pleasant than the Audi A4 diesel rental I came with which buzzes and vibrates constantly. The regen wasn’t instant as I had expected (I am sure this is due to the new 5.8 version) but it came on soon enough and did a wonderful job slowing down the car almost to a stop. I found myself covering the brakes unnecessarily – it took a few minutes to get used to this. The Mercedes signal indicator position never presented me with a problem as I have owned a Merc in the past. I loved having the rear camera and Google maps on at the same time. The screens are so clear they don’t feel digital – more like magic paper :rolleyes:. Overall the car felt rock solid, expensive - no creaks or rattles, and very light and responsive. Unfortunately I never had the space to try out the acceleration or handling of the P85+ while in town…

    Driving on the Motorway: Robin directed me onto the motorway where I noticed that things became noisy at around 70-80 mph. The car made a kind of electric whirring sound which was not at all noticeable in town. This could have been due to the full winter tires but could also be from the drive train. I don’t know if it was just that there was a big difference in noise to the low speed ride, but I felt it to be louder than my Audi A4 at motorway speeds (which also had full winter tires). Anyways; time to mash the go pedal. 55 mph to 75 was over in seconds, it was instant but I found myself disappointed and wanting something more extreme. As others have pointed out that is part of the appeal of the Tesla how easy it is to drive fast. I didn’t get to floor it from zero which is where you get the most acceleration. To keep things in perspective I also felt the same way when I drove my younger brother’s Lamborghini Gallardo – felt that it needed more speed. As you can see from this link, that car’s got nothing on the Tesla: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcockrAKAcY. Anyways, alternating between regen and pedal-to-the-metal gave me quite a few giggles. To finish off I took the motorway exit at unreasonable speed and the car felt super planted even on 19’s with winter tires. We then stopped at a gas station (haha) where Robin took the car on to his meeting and sent me back to town on the tram (at least it was electric).

    Conclusion: now that I have seen and driven the Tesla, my dream configuration has been slightly changed. I no longer want the black interior (prefer tan), don’t like the piano black, and I definitely want the Yacht Floor. I’m leaning towards a non+ since it is theoretically more of a handful when pushed hard. I also quite like the standard 19” rims, combined with air suspension in low mode they make the car look longer when viewed from the side.

    Awesome! What an amazing half-hour spent with a Tesla Model S. Now back to mind-paralyzingly-boring shopping :crying:

    Mods: there used to be a sticky for "First Driving Impressions" but I couldn’t find it. Feel free to move this post as you feel appropriate. Thanks.
     
  2. Chas F

    Chas F Model S 60kWh #P6396

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    Great post!
     
  3. momo

    momo New Member

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    Hi Ames,

    Great review. Tesla and shopping aside, hope you had a chance to eat at the Kronenhalle while you were in Zurich ;-)

    One thing I am having a hard time with is deciding for/against the piano black (the model S I tried had obeche). What don't you like about the piano black? Is it plasticky looking or just a personal pref? Do you know if it is indeed real lacquered wood ?

    Thanks for any info you can provide about that interior finish !
     
  4. Ames

    Ames Member

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    Hi Momo and welcome to the forum. Didn't get a chance to eat at the Kronenhalle, maybe next time.

    I felt the piano black was lost in contrast to the black leather and it really showed fingerprints - because it was a demo car they were everywhere. To my eye it was a little plasticy. Being a "neat freak" I made a point of not touching the wood so I couldn't say if it is real or not. To the best of my recollection it is real. My recommendation is that you see all possible combinations yourself because everything looks different in real life. In the meantime here are some pics I took showing the piano black. My wife really liked the open middle - it fit her handbag perfectly :rolleyes:

    Cheers!

    Alex

    IMG_0820.JPG IMG_0827.JPG
     
  5. momo

    momo New Member

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    Ames,


    Thanks for the reply and photos !

    I agree with you that the best is to see all combinations in real life, but with Tesla it really depends if there is a showroom where you are located. In France they have yet to open a showroom and when you book a test drive there is no way to see anything but the car you are testing. It is unfortunate that they don't even have samples of the woods, leathers and colours for you to look at. That's why feedback from the forums is invaluable :)


    I'm actually looking at ordering a P85 configured somewhat like yours, in multi coat red with tan leather (non performance seats, so the leather is all over) and extended leather. I think piano black would look perfect and I'm not a big fan of the other options. My only worry is if it were plastic looking/feeling. I'm going to try and get a more precise answer from the tesla rep. I'll update this thread if I get more info from them.
     
  6. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    The plastic look is not a problem. In fact the Jaguar XF I just returned as a loaner while my Model S is being serviced has wood accents that looks plastic or really are. It just looks totally phony. The high state of gloss is the problem, as real wood is rarely finished that way.
     
  7. killer_model_s

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    How is the demand for the model s in Switzerland? Did you get the impression that there is a lack thereof?
     
  8. Ames

    Ames Member

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    From talking to the sales rep I understood that they had delivered well over 100 units so far. I'm not sure it will sell very well in Switzerland as a nice one costs around $30,000 more than the US and there are no significant incentives other than reduction of road tax (only in some districts). In my short time at the store I saw 1 customer come in and look over the car but I'm not sure he had a clue what it was - he was very surprised that it didn't have an engine.

    http://www.teslamotors.com/incentives/CH
     

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